A Warning About Self-Confidence

Series: Re-Imaged | Week 1: An Image To Bear

Read James 4:13-17 in your personal Bible or at the link provided.


  1. What does James say your life is like?
  2. In verse 17, how does James describe sin?
  3. What is that we “ought to say”?


Sometimes we can get so excited about the future or we can want a certain scenario to work out so badly that we begin to plan our lives without inviting God into the process. You ever been there? Yeah, me neither. Stick with me, though, because this is the problem that James addressed in verses 13-17. He issued a warning about self-confidence. Put plainly – the problem is when we place our will above God’s will.

With one question James stops us in our tracks. “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow?” No rebuttal. I mean, do any of us really know? Then who are we to speak with such confidence about what we’re going to be doing a year from now? James even takes it a step further by saying, it’s not just us being naïve when we do this—it’s us boasting in ourselves, and that’s a sin.

I love that James then offers the quick fix in verse 15. “What you ought to say is, ‘if the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.’”

James says make it a habit to make this switch. If we continuously make this switch, God’s will become much clearer. That’s what we all want, right? And that’s the only way to get it. Understanding God’s will won’t come from cracking some code; it comes from getting to know the heart of your Heavenly Father.

In Psalm 37:4 it says, “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.”

This switch is more than a turn of a phrase; it’s truly about wanting what God wants. His desires become my desires. And if our wills ever collide - I’m going to place God’s will above my own.


The beginning of the year is the time where a lot of us begin to make plans for the rest of the year. That’s a good thing! But what would it look like to make the switch we see in James 4?

Instead of saying, “I will…”

What if you placed all your plans and goals under this banner instead:

“Father, if it is your will, I would like to…”

And then leave space for God to speak. “God, if you have something different, I want that. I want what you want. Help the desires of my heart to match yours. Give me the faith to place Your will above mine.”